Conference of the Birds: A Philosophical Religious Poem in Prose
The Conference of the Birds is one of the great works of world literature. In it Farid ud-Din Attar explores the nature of the spiritual path through an allegory of the brave birds that go in search of their king through the peaks of exultation and the valleys of despair that represent the stages of the seeker as he travels towards enlightenment. Attar was the predecessor of the great Persian Sufi poet Jalalludin Rumi, who borrowed Attar’s technique of weaving wisdom within entertaining and amusing tales.
Considered by Rumi to be “the master” of Sufi mystic poetry, Attar is best known for this epic poem, a magnificent allegorical tale about the soul’s search for meaning. He recounts the perilous journey of the world’s birds to the faraway peaks of Mount Qaf in search of the mysterious Simorgh, their king. Attar’s beguiling anecdotes and humor intermingle the sublime with the mundane, the spiritual with the worldly, while his poem models the soul’s escape from the mind’s rational embrace.